Why Not Be All Flame?

I have decided to pick up where Monday’s blog left off. The following story has always been one of my favorites coming out of the first Christians to flee into the deserts in the early 4th century. If you have not read Monday’s post go here and then come back.

Abba Lot went to see Abba Joseph and said to him, “Abba, as far as I can I say my Little Office. I fast a little. I pray. I meditate. I live in peace and as far as I can. I purify my thoughts. What else am I to do?” “What else,” Abba Lot says, “can I do?” Then the old man stood up, stretched his hands towards heaven and his fingers became like ten lamps of fire, and he said to him, “If you will, you can become all flame.”

There are many stories of this fire and it is not unique to the Christian Tradition but we see it more in Orthodoxy than in the West. There is a great picture of St. John of San Francisco that seems to capture this light.

St. John of San Francsico Reading the Gospel

Elder Paisios of Holy Mount Athos in Greece told a story about incident with Uncreated Light while praying the Jesus Prayer in his cell one night.

“I was gradually possessed by a heavenly joy. Simultaneously, my cell, whose darkness was interrupted only by the trembling flame of a candle, was filled with a beautiful white-blue light. At the beginning, the light was very strong. … I stayed in my cell for many hours, losing sense of all earthly things and living in a spiritual world, very different from this one.

While being in this state of the Uncreated Light and heavenly experience, I lost all sense of time.

At one point the Uncreated Light started to fade away and I was back to my old state of being. I began to feel hungry, so I took a piece of bread to eat. Then, I was thirsty… Further down from my cell, another monk was residing. I looked outside and had the impression it was still night with a full moon. I went outside and asked him, “What time is it? It seems that dawn has not broken yet?”  The monk looked astonished and asked me, “What did you say Father Paisios? I don’t understand.”

Only then did I realize what had happened. It was ten in the morning and the “full moon” I thought I had seen was the sun. The Uncreated Light was so strong that it made daylight and the sun look like night with a full moon.



Filed under Flames of Wisdom, Orthodox Christianity

2 responses to “Why Not Be All Flame?

  1. These are some of my favorites, too! Years ago I saw a photo similar to the one of St. John M. of S.F. It was of an American hierarch, unnamed here since he’s still living, during the celebration of the Holy Liturgy. The bishop was facing the Holy Table and the entire Sanctuary was filled with that same white glow you see above (behind?) St. John in the photo on this post.

    And then there are these baptismal photos taken last Fall at a baptism at a church in the American Southwest. {http://bit.ly/9ynjj1} Make of them what you will…

    • Fr. James Coles

      Thank you Fr. Paul. I am very familiar with the picture of the hierarch you are referring to. I am even more familiar with the link you included for the pictures of that Baptism.
      Thank for your comment and link to those pictures. Blessed Nativity Fast to you and yours.
      Fr. James

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